Hey PFT Family! I'm sitting in Starbucks (as I write this) sipping on my small (tall if you're being picky about it) black coffee. I've also been up since 3:30 a.m. Since that time, I've taught three PFT classes, answered emails, responded to numerous Facebook messages and submitted PFT's weekly meal orders. I have yet to eat a meal or consume a single calorie. However, my mind is crystal clear and my focus is razor (straight edge) sharp.
You may be asking yourself:
"But wait, isn't breakfast the most important meal of the day?"
"Aren't you starving?"
"Why...just why, would you do this?"
These are all good questions.
So...why am I waiting to eat my first meal? I'm practicing an eating pattern/strategy know as Intermittent Fasting (IF). Perhaps you are wondering, "What is Intermittent Fasting and why would you ever do it?"
Well...there are a multitude of reasons. Let me explain.
What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
Simply put, Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a term used to describe fasting for a prescribed amount of time; followed by a window of time in which you will consume ALL your calories for the day. Therefore, IF is not a diet, but instead an eating strategy/pattern.
Physiological Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
- Changes in the function of Cells, Genes and Hormones:
- While fasting, your body initiates important cellular recycle and repair processes.
- Increase in Human Growth Hormone (HGH) makes stored body fat more accessible for energy usage.
- Changes in several genes and molecules increase protection against certain types of diseases and possibly extend our lifespan.
- Weight-Loss and reduction of belly fat:
- Due to reduced insulin levels and a boost in HGH levels, there may be a small increase in metabolic rate leading to a greater percentage of energy expenditure (calories out). These same occurrences, can make stored body fat more accessible (for energy) and in turn, result in a reduction of waist size.
- Improved insulin sensitivity:
- Reducing insulin resistance and stabilizing blood sugar levels can help protect against Type II Diabetes and other Metabolic Syndromes.
- May extend your lifespan:
- In a similar fashion as continuous caloric restriction, IF may extend your lifespan. This still needs far more research, but if you plan on living to be 115 years old (like me) you'll need every edge you can get.
Health and Lifestyle Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
- Reduced Stress and Increased Productivity:
- You won't have to worry about making breakfast or prepping as many meals, which can lead to a reduction in stress (always a great thing).
- You'll be amazed at how our biological response to hunger will sharpen your focus. This combined with trying to stay busy (to avoid thinking about food), will drive productivity through the roof.
- Better understanding of True Hunger:
- There is a BIG difference between "tolerable hunger" and "intolerable hunger". Fasting will improve your discipline and how to distinguish between these two very different types of hunger.
- "I'm starving!!" We are all guilty of over exaggerating our level of hunger at times. It's perfectly normal to be slightly hungry. Learning to become comfortable with this feeling will help tremendously while in a caloric deficit and attempting to lose weight/body fat.
- It's HARD to stop eating:
- It is much easier to wait a little longer before we have our first meal, than to stop eating early in the evening. In the evening time, things typically slow down and our focus is more easily shifted toward cravings (due to relaxation cues and fatigue).
- Social Freedom:
- By saving a big portion of our calories for later in the day, we have much more flexibility and freedom when it comes to social events with our friends and family. This can lead to more overall life enjoyment, which will almost always result in better adherence.
Intermittent Fasting may reduce stress, sharpen focus, increase productivity, improve hunger tolerance and allow for more freedom and flexibility during social situations (YAY!!!!)
OK...OK...Now that we have the science and life stuff out of the way, let's get down to business!
How to Use Intermittent Fasting...PFT Style!
16:8 Protocol: At PFT, we use the 16:8 Intermittent Fasting Protocol. This means you'll fast for 16 hours and eat all your calories in an 8-hour window (best to use the time spent sleeping as a big portion of your fast).
Example: Final meal at 8 p.m. = First meal at 12:00 p.m. (This fasting period can be between any times of your choosing, depending on what best fits your personal schedule.)
At PFT (based on optimizing our training schedule) we will fast on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. These are our cardio/core days and we want to maximize the fat burning possibilities of both the training and nutrition protocols.
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday you will eat your first meal within an hour of your training session. Since these are our strength training days, we will be breaking down the muscle fibers and depleting muscle glycogen stores. This fact, combined with coming off a fasting period, makes swift nutrition vastly more important to kickstart muscle repair and recovery.
Finally, Sunday will be a FREE day (you can choose to fast or eat in a more regular pattern).
- Monday: Eat within an hour of training
- Tuesday: Intermittent Fasting
- Wednesday: Eat within an hour of training
- Thursday: Intermittent Fasting
- Friday: Eat within an hour of training
- Saturday: Intermittent Fasting
- Sunday: FREE day
Everything boils down to eating in accordance to your goals and in a way that improves your overall life enjoyment.
If your goal is to lose weight and body fat, then we have you covered with Phase 1: LOSE and Phase 3: LEAN of our PFT 2.0 Nutritional Strategy. If your goal is to build muscle (or maintain your current physique), then you'll follow Phase 2: TONE. If you just want to eat intuitively, then follow your normal eating strategy and adjust (calories) slightly up or down by how your body is responding, how hard you can train and your overall feeling of AWESOMENESS!!
Intermittent fasting isn't magic...it's just another tool for your toolbox that you can use to build the body of your wildest dreams. No more...No less.
Although there is nothing inherently unhealthy about fasting, here are some possible reasons where it may be best to avoid it.
- Pregnant or breast feeding
- Have a history of eating disorders
- Highly stressed
- Inability to sleep
- Brand new to training and/or exercise
- Extreme fluctuations in blood sugar